EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — After 11 years of serving as the East Lansing City Manager, George Lahanas is on his way out.
It came as a surprise as Lahanas got positive performance reviews and his contract wasn’t set to expire for another year and a half.
The separation agreement was approved unanimously at Tuesday’s city council meeting, but at least one council member was reluctant to see Lahanas go.
That’s because according to city leaders like Mayor Ron Bacon, there was no major dispute or scandal leading to this separation. The city council just wants to move in a new direction.
“I will to no uncertain terms to the media and otherwise, there’s nothing disparaging or anything going on with the relationship or anything that would other than direction, and some things that direction of things and what we want to see done and things along that. There was nothing, nothing bad or anything out there, you’re not going to find a scandal,” said Bacon.
Former Fire Chief Randall Talifarro was appointed interim city manager at the same meeting but can’t take the job until next month.
According to the city’s line of succession, Deputy City Manager Tom Fehrenbach will be acting city manager starting Wednesday. His last day is Friday.
Police Chief Kim Johnson will take over as acting city manager starting Monday.
The East Lansing City Council said in a draft agreement that “it is in the best interests of the CITY to separate LAHANAS’ employment in order to go in a different direction in the management of the CITY” and has prepared a separation agreement with Lahanas. The group is scheduled to consider it at tonight’s special city council meeting.
Lahanas served as the city manager since February 2012, according to his LinkedIn page. It also says he served in a variety of roles with the city from January 1999 through October 2011, including a stint as Deputy City Manager.
Lahanas would also get health, dental, and life insurance through February 29, 2024. The city would also pay for health care for Lahanas and his family for another five years, through his 65th birthday, at which time he’d be eligible for Medicare.
The move comes just two months after a performance review showing that council members thought Lahanas was doing a good job. In a November 18th story by East Lansing Info, one council member rated Lahanas as “exceeding expectations” in all areas, though a former member said she did not give him any of those ratings.
The move also comes around a year and half before his contract was set to expire. Another article in East Lansing Info says that Lahanas’s contract, approved in September of 2020, runs through June of 2024.
The story also quotes comments for council members who said his “integrity is stellar” and that he was a “highly ethical leader/manager with good institutional memory and a sense of future opportunities.”
Calls and e-mails to Lahanas, East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon, and Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg were not immediately returned. This story will be updated when we hear from them.
The council will also consider appointing Randall Talifarro as the Interim City Manager with a salary of $15,000 a month, along with a monthly housing allowance of $3,000 and use of a car.
Talifarro knows the city well. He served as fire chief during part of his 20 years of work in East Lansing. He retired in June of 2021.
“Chief Talifarro has proudly served our community with professionalism, efficiency and diligence over the last 20 years,” Lahanas said at the time. “We are grateful for Chief Talifarro’s leadership in East Lansing, the knowledge and expertise that he brought with him to the role.”
6 News will continue to update this story with details and will be at the special City Council meeting tonight.